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Martin Luther King - Day of Service, January 19, 2015

Borough Of DoylestownPennsylvania

A Powerful Partnership
in Education

For those of you who know a teacher or perhaps have a teacher in your family, you can appreciate what I’m about to say.  That beloved month of the year has arrived -- June is here!  (Yes, it’s not just the kids who are counting down the days.)  Now, if only the phrase “school’s out” signified the same thing for both kids and educators.  For students, there’s at least eight glorious, homework-free weeks of summer fun ahead!  For teachers, not so much.  I’m not complaining, mind you.  I do appreciate the change of scenery from my four classroom walls.  In fact, my guess is that there are few professions in which you get to walk away from the day-to-day demands of your job for a several months, to refuel, rethink, and revive yourself! For that I am immensely grateful.

But I actually look forward to June for another reason altogether.  Why?  Because it’s a time of year which forces us (by us I mean educators) to participate in the highly effective and productive habit of reflection.  You see, teachers are always evaluating, not just students, but ourselves.  We’re always thinking of new ways to instruct, to motive, or to inspire students.  It’s truly part of our DNA as educators.  It’s in June that we naturally reflect upon what worked and what didn’t work so well in our classrooms.  Then, it becomes our “summer job” to think of ways to do it “bigger or better” the following school year.

Reflection, in many cases, leads to innovation. But, what does it actually mean to be innovative? Teachers love any excuse to force others to define words, so here goes:
Definition:  in•no•va•tive [ ínn? vàytiv ]  new and creative, especially in the way that something is done.  
Synonyms:  groundbreaking; pioneering, state-of-the-art, inventive, original

Yet, very few people can truly be innovative without the help of others. Creativity in the classroom is at its best when supported by the community at large.  Finding and building partnerships with parents, local businesses and organizations, and other like-minded groups of people often results in new opportunities for student exploration and success. The Doylestown-based CB Cares Educational Foundation is one local organization who is supporting such efforts with it’s first-ever “Innovative Learning Grants” presented to Central Bucks School District professionals including teachers and principals.  The nonprofit foundation, whose mission is to provide developmental asset-based programs in our local community, is funding this new program through the Educational Tax Credit Program (EITC) through the state of Pennsylvania. (Local businesses looking for ways to support the work of school professionals through this program may contact CB Cares Executive Director Kimberly Cambra at kcambra@dh.org.)

What’s this mean to local educators?  Plenty!  It means a project, a new approach, a new vision can move forward in a classroom.  For a teacher, it doesn’t get much better than that! CB Cares Foundation presented $8,200 to nine teachers last month through its competitive award process.  Through this powerful partnership new projects, approaches, and methods to enhance curriculum are now possible.  The scope of “innovativeness” is impressive.  From grants to fund bullying prevention initiatives and “buddy benches,” to technology for Kindergarteners and building classroom libraries, to initiatives such as “Global Kids” and “Ghana Walk” to create global awareness and support of students and schools in Africa, and restorative practices at the high school level.

That old expression, “It takes a village…” holds true.  Educators depend on partnerships like this one and others to provide opportunities for learning and exploration that perhaps their students wouldn’t have otherwise had without community support.  As a local educator, I admit quite readily that we are fortunate to have such support here locally in the Doylestown.  In the end, however, it’s not about the teacher, but the hundreds of students who are impacted positively by the programs such funds and grants support. There’s no doubt that area educators who benefited from “partnerships in education” will find themselves reflecting upon unique solutions and innovativeness that worked this school year -- maybe even freeing themselves up for just a little bit of fun, and perhaps a little bit less work, this summer!


Karen Snyder - Live & Learn

Karen considers herself both teacher and student. As an educator for more than two decades, she has taught students of all ages – from preschoolers to graduate students. Yet, she agrees we’re not always in need of a teacher.  There’s much to learn and experience from the world around us – especially right here in Doylestown. Prior to becoming an educator, Karen pursued her passion for writing as a corporate communications professional for Fortune 500 companies, a public relations consultant, and as freelance editor and contributing writer to several parenting and travel magazines. Karen relocated to beautiful Bucks County from Baltimore 17 years ago and quickly became Doylestown proud. Join her as she shares opportunities for “ageless” learning right here in our own back yard.  She promises -- no homework!



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